Dick Whittington (General)

by peteressex @, Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 09:37 (2319 days ago)

Inspired by a current thread enquiring about this surname, I'm wondering if anybody knows of a fairly exhaustive piece of research into the reality or otherwise of the famous Lord Mayor of London having been born at Pauntley, and what really happened from there. What I can find is "bitty", but there seems to be a consensus that his birth was there or nearby around 1350, and that he did go to London to seek his fortune, though not because he was penniless but because as a younger son of a local landowner he could not expect to inherit his father's estate. It also seems more likely than not that his cat was legendary.

There is no doubt that a Sir Richard Whittington was Lord Mayor of London several times. However it has always disturbed me that if the young and disillusioned Dick left London to return home to Glos via Highgate Hill, he was seriously disorientated. Highgate Hill is just off the old Great North Road and over an hour's walk from the City. Anyone heading for Glos with any sense of direction was more likely in that time to have reached Notting Hill which to this day is just off the A40.

Dick Whittington Pauntley

by slowhands, proud of his ancient Dean Forest roots, Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 10:04 (2319 days ago) @ peteressex


there is a PDF article

Agree re leaving London, but how many times have I ended up in Chelsea when I was trying to find the A40 out of London :-) ????

Ἀριστοτέλης A Gloster Boy in the Forest of Dean ><((((*>

Dick Whittington Pauntley

by peteressex @, Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 12:38 (2319 days ago) @ slowhands

Thanks, Slowhands, as ever. The pdf you've pointed up is pretty informative and this article from Australia in 1923 is nicely surprising. But, like other material, it's thin on facts prior to arrival in London.

I have found a reference to a booklet, described on genuki as "well-researched", self-published by Michael Whittington of Coates, Cirencester, and entitled "The Whittington Story", ISBN 0 951351 0 1, in which in the first four chapters might be helpful. But I can't find anywhere to get hold of it.

Interestingly however, www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1386-1421/member/whittington-richard-1423 takes it as read that Dick was the third son of Sir William Whittington, a "minor Gloucestershire landowner" (bit of a slap to the area there!) That website in turn says its content relies heavily on C.M. Barron's "Richard Whittington" in "Studies in London History," ed. Hollaender & Kellaway, which does show up on Amazon for example, but again I suspect "London history" may not have much to say realiably about the Pauntley bit, so I'm reluctant to shell £16.95 or so.

It would be fascinating to discover more about his early days. If it's true that Sir William Whittington had been outlawed for marrying Thomas de Berkeley's widow without the appropriate consent, and that Dick was the third if not later son, then despite the widely accepted connection to the "minor" Pauntley Court it may well be true that Dick Whittington arrived in London in modest circumstances. However, if so, he may have run a good line in sob stories. It seems clear that he racked up such a massive fortune in a short time from sales of gold cloth that he was able to bail out the monarchy. Perhaps he had decent funds when he set out after all.

The folk tale says his early employer in London encouraged servants to place one item for good luck with the master of a ship before it set sail, and that Dick thus gave up the cat which he had bought for one penny to keep the mice down in his attic room. The ship, the "Unicorn", reached a hitherto unvisited place which was overrun by rodents, whereupon the local ruler, learning of the cat's prowess, bought it for megabucks which the master promptly handed over to Dick when the ship conveniently docked back in London shortly after Dick had peformed his campanologically inspired u-turn. I think this says more for the perceived honesty of sailors than for the accuracy of the record and I don't believe a word of it.

I live down the A24 these days. Avoid it in the rush hour, or you may never pass beyond Burford again.

Dick Whittington Pauntley

by slowhands, proud of his ancient Dean Forest roots, Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 13:43 (2319 days ago) @ peteressex

Dick Whittington Pauntley

by peteressex @, Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 14:28 (2319 days ago) @ slowhands

Thanks again. I had seen those. They still leave the problem of authentication of his early days, and the BBC series struck me as heavily romanticised - for example as to hitching a lift on a wool-cart. However, the Mail on Sunday's travel editor did take my point about Highgate being a strange way to leave London for Pauntley.

Dick Whittington Pauntley

by dormin @, Friday, February 17, 2012, 16:21 (2317 days ago) @ peteressex

The Whittington Story by Michael Whittington and The Model Merchant of the Middle Ages by Samuel Lysons (pub.1860)may be available through the public library loan scheme. I found The Whittington Story in a second hand bookshop. It is so well researched.
Surely "minor landowner" refers to quantity rather than quality.

Dick Whittington Pauntley

by peteressex @, Friday, February 17, 2012, 16:30 (2317 days ago) @ dormin

Thanks. I tried Surrey Libraries where I now live, and they don't have it, but I did discover "Dick Whittington - the True Story" by Osbert sitwell which might be interesting

Dick Whittington

by m p griffiths @, Saturday, May 05, 2012, 15:33 (2239 days ago) @ peteressex

Thank you for this link. As 'Boris' has just been returned as Lord Mayor of London today, my granddaughter asked me if Dick Whittington was a real character, and we've discovered he was and from the Forest of Dean.

Dick Whittington

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Saturday, May 05, 2012, 17:08 (2239 days ago) @ m p griffiths

Hi Marilyn hope you're keeping well.

Very much a true character but sadly cannot say I've seen any evidence whatsoever re his famous Cat, altho' if your Grandaughter asks then of course

"it's behind you"....

see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Whittington_and_His_Cat

Thinking about your grandaughter's questions reminds me of my confusion as a child in the late 60s/early 70s. My dad worked near Ruardean his home village, I vaguely recall a good friend of his called Whittington & clearly of some importance locally !!??. I knew from panto of Mayor Dick Whittington so it was somewhat confusing to me (10 year olds in those days wern't as worldlywise as now !). In many ways the above gent's whole persona & build suggested a pantomime character, don't know if he could sing but to me he looked just like Harry Secombe when a Goon, a short round jolly man with typical 60s blackrimmed glasses ?.

Now thanks to this forum I know he was JIM Whittington who was indeed the Mayor of Ruardean back in the 50s or so !.

I also know my memory of him being of generous proportions were correct.

I don't know if Mayor Jim had a cat ....

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